Jean Jullien

Posted inDesigner Profiles
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Promotional graphic for the musician (and Jullien’s brother) Niwouinwouin.

From: Nantes, France

Lives in: London

Age: 26


The French illustrator Jean Jullien is best known for creating cheerful characters that he cuts out of paper and captures in photographs. His simple, appealing scenes got a big break on the website Manystuff in 2008 while he was still in art school, and since then his work has appeared in The Guardian and The New York Times, and on a host of design blogs.

Jullien studied graphic design at the French school Le Paraclet and then at Central St. Martin’s, and is now enrolled at the Royal College of Art. He comes by both his visual inclinations and his fascination with three-dimensional forms honestly: His mother is an architect and a curator, and his father is a town planner. He says that he and his brother, a musician, were “always shown design and art.”

The tangibility and familiarity of his process are definitely part of its appeal for casual observers and design cognoscenti alike. “If something is made of wood, they know what wood is; if paper, they know it’s paper,” he says. The simplicity that is essential to all his work, 3-D or not, also helps it achieve its goal: to connect with the audience. “It’s important when you communicate to do something direct—the simpler [the work] you do, the more people you can communicate with,” he says. “If you do something that’s too literate, you’re only going to appeal to visual geeks.” Of course, his design heroes—Paul Rand and Saul Bass, among others—are pretty popular with design trainspotters, too, as is Jullien himself.

That directness he describes was on display a few months ago in a solo exhibition in Marseilles showing faux books he crafted from wood. The quality is also apparent in a simple, white-on-blue clock T-shirt design he created for the site It’s Nice That. Currently, Jullien is thinking of developing an animated TV show [watch the trailer] as well as a line of products that could easily gain him a wider audience. Bet they’ll get some serious design-geek love, too.

Posterfor Cliché, a London club night. Photographer: Erik Hartin.

Caitlin Dover is managing editor of Print.

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